If maddeningly itchy skin has reared its ugly head while you’re just trying to get a handle on your hormones while you’re going through the menopause, you’re not alone.
Drier skin, more sensitive skin and sleep depriving skin which switches on it’s itching at night are common symptoms for many women in their 40’s and 50’s. The good news is there are lots of things you can do to soothe your scratchy skin.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the link between the itchy skin menopause can bring with it and perimenopause skin itching, and give you lots of top tips to help you regain healthy, smooth skin.
Firstly, what age does menopause happen?
The menopause is the time when menstruation stops for more than 12 months. This usually happens between the ages of 50 and 55. Perimenopause is the period leading up to menopause, and the time when most women begin to notice symptoms such as weight gain, mood swings, irregular periods, memory issues and bloating.
What is itchiness?
Itchy skin is an uncomfortable, irritating sensation that makes you want to scratch. If you’re experiencing prickly itchy skin during the menopause, there’s a good chance the two things are related. Certain parts of the body are usually more affected – areas such as the chest, back, legs, arms, face, and neck are the biggest issue for most sufferers. And, it’s often joined by dry skin, a rash, redness, bumpy skin, or swelling.
Having healthy skin depends on lots of different factors – your age, diet, hydration, and hormone levels all have a part to play. So, there are a few things you can try out to help regain healthy skin before you look to your hormones for answers.
First up, it’s well worth switching your skincare products or detergent to try and determine if either is causing the issue. Turning the heating down can help, too – toasty temperatures can dry your skin out which in turn can cause itchy skin. Even your wardrobe has a role to play – your skin prefers clothing made with natural fabrics like cotton, denim, and silk. Avoiding items containing acrylic and polyester can really help, as well.
If you’re over 50 and still not seeing any improvements once you’ve given these a go, it could be that your itchy skin is all down to the menopause.
What causes itchy skin in menopause?
Estrogen puts its name to a whole host of benefits – keeping your skin moist and healthy is just one of them. The hormone helps to produce collagen and natural oils, so when your estrogen levels reduce during the menopause, it can lead to dry, itchy skin. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and is found in your bones, muscles, skin and tendons. Collagen helps the skin to keep in moisture which gives it elasticity and strength.
If your skin is drier and less elastic than it was previously, this can also mean you’re more likely to become sensitive to soaps, perfumes, and detergents. This can cause a bit of a chain reaction, causing your skin to become much more sensitive, which in turn leads to itching.
How can you reduce itchy skin?
Dry skin can often start in perimenopause, when ovarian hormone production starts to become less reliable. Healthy skin needs oil to lock in moisture so skin can remain plump and nourished. Hormonal changes can affect the structure of your skin, you produce less oil so your skin becomes duller and dehydrated.
Adult acne can appear if your testosterone hormone levels become more dominant as your estrogen subsides. Let's look at some of the things you can do to get more comfortable.
Switch to products that are kind on the skin
Swapping your usual body care and cosmetic products to others that soothe sensitive skin can go a long way to helping your menopause-related skin problems. For example, if you use a perfumed moisturizer, try switching to an unscented one. You should also avoid products with high pH levels, and use shower gels and detergents suited for sensitive skin.
Wear loose clothing
Tight clothing will often irritate itchy skin, so it’s best to wear items that give your skin some breathing space. Avoid tight-fitting clothing and any item that may cause you to overheat. The same applies for when you’re sleeping – itching at night is a symptom many women suffer from during the menopause.
Avoid spending too much time in water
Spending lots of time swimming, in hot tubs, or in warm baths will remove some of the natural oils from your skin, which can also cause more itchiness.
Avoid extreme temperatures
Being too hot or too cold can also cause your skin to dry out. Turn your heating down – doctors recommend turning your thermostat to somewhere between 67°F to 72°F. On the same note, it’s best to avoid taking super-hot showers, too. And, it’s equally as important to cover your hands, neck, and ankles when you’re out in cold weather.
Try not to scratch your skin
Itchy skin can become unbearable, and it’s extremely hard not to give it a long, hard itch, but it’s best to avoid it if you can. Patting or tapping the affected area should give you some relief, and it’s best to keep your nails trimmed to avoid any subconscious scratching sessions in your sleep.
Try taking vitamins
Boosting your vitamin intake is another top tip for healthy skin. Vitamin C increases your collagen production, which in turn can help itchy skin – citrus fruits, strawberries, and white potatoes are a good starting point to increase your levels. Vitamin E is another good bet – Vitamin E helps to repair and protect your skin from becoming inflamed – the likes of sunflower seeds, spinach, and almonds contain plenty of it.
The bottom line
A decline in natural oils and estrogen caused by the menopause can lead to itchy, dry skin. However, there are lots of things you can do to help soothe your skin. Changing detergents and your skincare products is a great place to start, and it’s just as important to keep your body at a comfortable temperature to stop your skin from drying out.
Vitamins and supplements can make a huge difference, too. Eve Biology’s range of meal replacements are formulated specifically for women going through menopause.
How can I stop menopause itching?
A few simple lifestyle changes can lead to lots of relief when it comes to menopause itching. It depends on the area that’s affected, but let’s say for example you’re suffering from an itchy scalp in menopause – take a look at the shampoo and conditioner you’re using, and any other beauty products you’re putting close to your scalp. Switch them up and see if you see any changes – you should avoid products for at least a week before ruling it out.
Does low estrogen cause itchy skin?
Yes – there’s a direct link between low estrogen levels and itchy skin. It’s because it helps to lift your collagen levels, which helps to keep your skin elastic and hydrated. So, less estrogen means more potential itchiness.
Does menopause itching go away?
The good news is that for most women, itching caused by the menopause can be managed by being kinder to skin and rehydrating it with richer moisturisers and creams. Menopause itself can last up to ten years. Collagen supplements can help, as can visiting your doctor or dermatologist if emerging skin allergies ( quite common in menopause) start to become painful or problematic